St. Charles

A small store stood near a deep spot in the creek that was used as a fording place by all who had occasion to cross it.

A farm was nearby and The Christian Privilege Meeting House, a focal point of worship and one of the first Christian churches in Hopkins County was to the north.

From these humble beginnings eventually grew the town of St. Charles. Because of the creek ford and the store, the travel through the area grew and a small settlement was established. Many railroad workers settled in the area when the lines were built. That settlement became known as Woodruff -- named for C. B. Woodruff, a farmer who owned a great deal of land in the area.

Many Union soldiers made their homes in Woodruff after the Civil War. The War caused big problems for the little town. Groups of guerillas roamed the area, killed two prominent citizens and caused a great deal more unrest in the small community.

The coal mining boom came to Woodruff in 1872 when a mine was opened in the town by the St. Bernard Coal Company. That's when the town name was changed from Woodruff to St. Charles.

Two opposing stories exist about the origin of the new name of the town. One says that it was named for Charles Woodruff, who owned all the land sold to the coal company. The other says the founder of the coal company had a son named Charles and wanted the town named after him.

The establishment of a store and houses by the coal company for their employees divided the town into an old and new section. The new section consisted of the coal company's ventures while the old section was made up of businesses owned by independent merchants. The dual personality of St. Charles resulted in duplicates of everything from schools to social clubs.

With the passage of time businesses came and went, the mines eventually shut down and St. Charles became the sleepy little town it is today.

This feature story originally appeared in the The Messenger in the small towns section of their "Changing Face of Hopkins County" on September 6, 1996 and was written by Slone Hutchison, a summer intern from Murray State University working with The Messenger to gain practical news papering skills during her summer vacation.

My thanks to The Messenger for granting permission to publish on the Hopkins County, Kentucky KyGenWeb page.

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Nancy Trice
Hopkins County, Ky

© 1997